Tehran: A senior Iranian military official says Iran is ready to help Iraq battle Al Qaida “terrorists” in the neighboring country’s Sunni-dominated western Anbar province. Iraqi troops have been trying to dislodge fighters from the Al Qaida group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant from two key cities the militants overran last week.

General Mohammad Hejazi, deputy chief-of-staff of Iran’s army, is quoted by Iranian media on Monday as saying the Islamic Republic can offer “military equipment and advisers” should Baghdad ask for it. Hejazi says: “Iraq is our friend.” He ruled out sending troops to Iraq. Fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province killed 22 soldiers and 12 civilians, along with an unknown number of militants on Sunday. Tehran is an ally of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.